Tag Archives: North British

Is British Industry really “Fat and Lazy”?

When Trade Secretary Liam Fox accused British industry of being “fat and lazy”, I immediately thought of this film, dating from 1959 when the world was a very different place.

Back then, Britain had trading deals with what until recently been the Empire, in which we imported food and raw materials in exchange for manufactured goods. Railway networks from Australia to Africa relied on motive power built by English Electric, North British and Beyer Peacock.

Half a century later, though we still have a train-making industry, we’re a net importer of railway equipment, which comes from America, Germany, Spain and Japan. In the past two decades Britain’s railways have seen deliveries of large numbers of locomotives, but just one, the steam locomotive “Tornado” was actually built in Britain. Though even its boiler came from Germany. The idea of a railway in Africa or New Zealand buying British today is unthinkable. They buy from America, Japan and China now.

What happened?

It’s probably a complex combination of many factors, not least the technological shift from steam to diesel which left some British train builders unable to adapt. It’s ironic that the two steam locomotives in the film remained in traffic for much longer than most of the diesels built for British Railways shown in the early part of the film. The comparison between the service lives of the South African class 25s and the BR D600 diesel-hydraulics, both the products of North British, is exceptionally stark. That company is long gone now; they proved themselves incapable of building reliable diesels, and went bust.

But a major factor has to be the way British industry, used to favourable trading arrangements dating from the days of the British Empire, was simply unable to compete in a global marketplace.

So I think Liam Fox, like so many other Brexiteers, is hankering for the days of Empire.

Posted in Religion and Politics, Travel & Transport | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Dapol Hydraulics

Dapol class 22

The layout has some new motive power in the shape of a couple of newly-released Dapol diesel-hydraulics. The little class 22 is the first of these.

The class 22s were one of those unsuccessful Modernisation Plan designs. Introduced in 1958 for secondary services, they were victims of the mass cull of non-standard designs at the end of the 1960s. The last was withdrawn in 1972, and despite an unsuccessful preservation attempt none of the locomotives have survived. British N has reached the stage where all the more popular and iconic classes of locomotives have been “done”, so manufacturers are looking at some of the more obscure prototypes.

Dapol Western Enterprise

The “Western” is altogether more iconic, making the national news when the last ones were withdrawn in 1977, and several survive in preservation. Graham Farish introduced the first N-gauge model back in the 1980s, and although it’s still in the catalogue their model is increasingly long in the tooth, so a modern state-of-the-art model is more than welcome.

“Western Enterprise” in its unique Desert Sand livery is a special commision for Osborns Models, a bit of a coup for them since these models were the first Westerns delivered from the factory, some weeks in advance of the more regular blue and maroon versions.

Dapol have come up with an interesting way of coping with the lower valance on the “Western” with regards to fitting a coupler while still allowing the locomotive to negotiate the sort of curves many modellers are forced to use. The model comes with a complete spare bogie, so you have the option of either having a coupler at both ends, or a coupler at one end only with a more realistic-looking front-end at the other. Both bogie and valance are push-fit meaning it takes just a few seconds to switch the locomotive between single and double-ended mode.

Both are very welcome models for anyone with an interest in 1960s Western Region in N, and it’s good to see the mundane in the shape of the 22 alongside the iconic.

Posted in Modelling News, Modelling Projects | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments